A nagging question has existed throughout Reds Country ever since Jeimer Candelario's signing was announced in early December. Don't the Cincinnati Reds have too many infielders?
The moment that the Reds signed Candelario to a three-year, $45 million contract, the fanbase began to pack Jonathan India's bags for him. After all, signing another player to an already stacked infield appeared to signal the end of the road for India's time in Cincinnati. But throughout the offseason, Reds President of Baseball Operations Nick Krall has poured cold water on the idea of trading India.
However, newly appointed GM Brad Meador seemed to acknowledge what the Reds' fanbase has been saying for the past several weeks. During an interview with MLB Network Radio, Meador said that, "on paper", it looks like the Reds have one too many infielders.
Reds' GM validates fan apprehension with honest appraisal of Jeimer Candelario signing
It's simple math, right? The Reds have already committed to having Spencer Steer move to the outfield. It would seem that Steer will get the majority of his starts in left field next season. But despite that position change, the Reds still have Candelario, India, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Noelvi Marte, Elly De La Cruz, and Matt McLain competing for playing time on the infield.
Most objective fans would take one look at those six names and slot Encarnacion-Strand at first base, McLain at the keystone, and some combination of Marte and De La Cruz on the left side of the infield. That leaves Candelario and India without a regular position in the lineup.
Of course, the designated hitter affords Cincinnati's manager David Bell the ability to rotate players in and out of the lineup as needed, but the Reds also have the left-handed hitting duo of Will Benson and Jake Fraley who'll be spending some time in that role.
Depth is not a bad thing, and injuries happen, so keeping the abundance of infielders at this point in the offseason isn't hindering anything. During his interview with MLB Network Radio, however, Meador mentioned Candelario's defensive versatility, but was very noncommittal when it came to India's future with the club.
While Brad Meador mentioned Jonathan India's intangibles (leadership and commitment to the team), he didn't exactly offer a ringing endorsement either. The Reds' executive also noted that signing Jeimer Candelario may not be that perfect fit that they're hoping it is.
Candelario's signing, alone, should help to upgrade the middle of Reds batting order in 2024. But the bountiful number of infielders on the roster, and in the minor leagues, continues to confound the Reds' fanbase. If India is traded, however, those concerns will disappear rather quickly.